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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Typewriter ANZACs: Australasian War Correspondents - Banjo Paterson (Part II)

On the Trek 
By Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson
Oh, the weary, weary journey on the trek, day after day,
    With sun above and silent veldt below;
And our hearts keep turning homeward to the youngsters far away,
    And the homestead where the climbing roses grow.
Shall we see the flats grow golden with the ripening of the grain?
    Shall we hear the parrots calling on the bough?
Ah! the weary months of marching ere we hear them call again,
    For we’re going on a long job now.
In the drowsy days on escort, riding slowly half asleep,
    With the endless line of waggons stretching back,
While the khaki soldiers travel like a mob of travelling sheep,
    Plodding silent on the never-ending track,
While the constant snap and sniping of the foe you never see
    Makes you wonder will your turn come – when and how?
As the Mauser ball hums past you like a vicious kind of bee –
    Oh! we’re going on a long job now.
When the dash and the excitement and the novelty are dead,
    And you’ve seen a load of wounded once or twice,
Or you’ve watched your old mate dying – with the vultures overhead,
    Well, you wonder if the war is worth the price.
And down along Monaro now they’re starting out to shear,
    I can picture the excitement and the row;
But they’ll miss me on the Lachlan when they call the roll this year,
    For we’re going on a long job now.
A  Boer War correspondent types his report on the Veldt.
Banjo Paterson is seen standing third from the left in the second line of officers from the Australian Light Horse. Captain Paterson proved himself an adept horseman, breaking and training remounts in Egypt with the 2nd Remounts. He was promoted to the rank of major before the cessation of hostilities in 1918.
Banjo Paterson covering the Boer War in South Africa in 1899-1900
Almost every Australian knows of Banjo Paterson as arguably this country's greatest - certainly most popular - poet. He was, after all, author of Waltzing Matilda, our unofficial national anthem, The Man From Snowy River and that other Australian classic, Clancy of the Overflow.But very few realise that he was also a war correspondent, having covered the Boer War in South Africa in late 1899 and through 1900 for The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne's The Age.
Andrew Barton Paterson was born on February 17, 1864, at Narrambla near Orange, New South Wales. Barty, as he was known to his family and friends, enjoyed a bush boyhood. When he was seven the family moved to Illalong in the Yass district, outside present-day Canberra. Here, near the main route between Sydney and Melbourne (now the Hume Highway), the exciting traffic of bullock teams, Cobb & Co coaches, drovers with their mobs of stock and gold escorts became familiar sights. At picnic race meetings and polo matches, he saw in action accomplished horsemen from the Murrumbidgee and Snowy Mountains country, which generated his lifelong enthusiasm for horses and horsemanship and eventually the writing of his famous equestrian ballads.
Once he was able to ride a pony he attended the bush school at Binalong. In 1874 he was sent to Sydney Grammar School and matriculated aged 16. After failing a University of Sydney scholarship examination, Paterson began writing verses as a law student. Adopting the pen name 'The Banjo' (taken from the name of a station racehorse owned by his family), he became one of that sodality of Bulletin writers and artists for which the 1890s are remarkable in Australian literature, forming friendships with Harry 'The Breaker' Morant and others. He helped Henry Lawson to draw up contracts with publishers and indulged in a friendly rhyming battle with him in the Bulletin over the attractions or otherwise of bush life.
By 1895 such ballads as Clancy of the Overflow, The Man from Ironbark and Saltbush Bill were so popular with readers that Angus & Robertson published the collection, The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses. The title-poem had swept the colonies when it was first published in April 1890. The book had a remarkable reception: the first edition sold out in the week of publication and 7000 copies in a few months; its particular achievement was to establish the bushman in the national consciousness as a romantic and archetypal figure. The book was as much praised in England as in Australia: The Times compared Paterson with Rudyard Kipling, who himself wrote to congratulate the publishers. Paterson's identity as 'The Banjo' was at last revealed and he became a national celebrity overnight.
While on holiday in Queensland late in 1895, Paterson stayed with friends at Dagworth station, near Winton. Here he wrote Waltzing Matilda, which was to become Australia's best-known folk song.
His most important journalistic opportunity came with the outbreak of the South African War when he was commissioned by The Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age as their war correspondent; he sailed for South Africa in October 1899.
Attached to General French's column, for nine months Paterson was in the thick of the fighting and his graphic accounts of the key campaigns included the surrender of Bloemfontein (he was the first correspondent to ride into that town), the capture of Pretoria and the relief of Kimberley. The quality of his reporting attracted the notice of the English press and he was appointed as a correspondent also for the international news agency, Reuters, an honour which he especially cherished in his later years.
Paterson sailed for China in July 1901 as a roving correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald. There he met G. E. ('Chinese') Morrison, whose exploits he had always admired; his accounts of this meeting are among Paterson's best prose work. He went on to England where he spent some time as Kipling's guest at his Sussex home.
When World War I began, Paterson immediately sailed for England, hoping unsuccessfully to cover the fighting in Flanders as a war correspondent. He drove an ambulance attached to the Australian Voluntary Hospital, Wimereux, France, before returning to Australia early in 1915. As honorary vet (with a certificate of competency) he made three voyages with horses to Africa, China and Egypt and was commissioned in the 2nd Remount Unit, Australian Imperial Force.
He died in Sydney, after a short illness, on February 5, 1941, 12 days short of his 77th birthday.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Talkin' Typewriters

There was another Typewriter History Presentation in Canberra on Easter Monday. An excellent roll-up (especially considering it was a long weekend) and an absorbed, appreciative (aged) audience. All went well:
 I remember when typewriters like this were sheer luxury!
Anyone here NOT use a typewriter?
 Now this is a typewriter!

My Sort of Gals (1936 and 1969) and My Sort of Guys (1944 and 1933)

No sound
Albert Tangora in slow-motion

No sound

Pre-Typewriter 'Typewriters' Demonstrated (1937): Burt, Francis, Hansen, Victor, Hammond and Many Others

George Bernard Shaw Goes A-Typin' (1946)

He eventually finds the shed with the Remington Noiseless portable in it at two minutes. No sound.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Typewriter ANZACs: Australasian War Correspondents - Louise Mack (Part I)

'Armed with only her portable typewriter, Louise Mack documented the awful truths of defeat: rape as a weapon of war, the despair of refugees fleeing the city and the wails of dying pets locked in the houses they left behind. Remaining in the city to see the German conquest at first hand, and finally able to get away disguised as a Belgian peasant, Mack brought the story of violent Belgian subjugation to the world and was lucky to escape with her life.'
- Sarah Dempster, The Australian, April 20, 2013
Marie Louise Hamilton Mack (1870-1935)
Last week plans were announced for an Australian memorial for war correspondentsThe memorial is the project of the C.E.W. Bean Foundation, named after Australia's official World War I historian Charles Bean (who also used a Corona 3 portable typewriter). 
An artists' impression of the proposed Australian War Correspondents Memorial.
Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson said that war correspondents played an integral part in preserving Australia's war history. The memorial will be completed by the end of next year.
In the coming days, leading to Anzac Day on April 25, we will look at some of Australasia's most famous typewriter-wielding war correspondents. Today, in part one, pioneering female war correspondent Louise Mack:
Marie Louise Hamilton Mack was born on October 10, 1870, in Hobart Town, Tasmania. She settled with her family in Sydney in 1882, where she attended Sydney Girls' High School. After briefly working as a governess, Louise became a regular contributor to The Bulletin in the late 1880s. In 1896 she married John Percy Creed, a barrister from Dublin. The same year her first novel, The World is Round, was published in London. In 1898 she joined The Bulletin staff, writing the "Woman's Letter" under the pen-name of "Gouli Gouli".
In 1901 Mack moved to England, without her husband, and wrote the novel An Australian Girl in London. She was engaged by Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe) as a journalist on The Daily Mail and in 1904 published another novel, Children of the Sun, set in Sydney. For six years she lived in Florence, editing the Italian Gazette from 1904-07.
Back in England in 1914, Mack managed to get to Belgium as the first woman war correspondent, reporting for the Evening News and The Daily Mail. It was so astonishing to have a woman cover the war that at least one Australian newspaper made the mistake of referring to her as "Mr Louis Mack" - the newspaper simply refused to believe her copy had been written by a woman!
Mack's eye-witness account of the German invasion of Antwerp and her adventures - A Woman's Experiences in the Great War - was published in 1915.
In 1916 she returned to Australia and in 1917-18 toured the country, speaking on her war experiences and raising money for the Australian Red Cross Society. From 1919 to the early 1930s she lectured in the Pacific Islands and New Zealand and, in association with the Department of Education and the Good Film League of New South Wales, toured Australia with travel talks and films for schools.
When in Melbourne in 1924, Mack married 33-year-old Allen Illingworth Leyland, a New Zealand Anzac. She died of cerebro-vascular disease in Mosman, Sydney, on November 23, 1935, aged  65.
Mack's sister, Amy Eleanor Mack (1876-1939) was also a journalist and in 1907-14 was editor of the "Women's Page" of The Sydney Morning Herald

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Raiders of the Lost Press Gallery

Queensland Typospherians Scott Kernaghan and Steve Snow broke their road trip from Brisbane to Melbourne by calling into Canberra today. Apart from the Australian Typewriter Museum, they wanted to see some other sights, so we headed off to Old Parliament House. (Australia's first permanent Parliament House wasn't opened until 1988; the "temporary" Parliament House used from 1927 is now a tourist attraction and is referred to as "Old Parliament House"). Steve had the idea to use and photograph typewriters in some interesting Canberra spots.
The day didn't dawn too brightly, but it got a whole lot better once the fog lifted.
Steve, left, and Scott get down to some serious typing in the plush leather Federal Opposition seats in what was for 60 years the House of Representatives.
 The view from the Press Gallery.
The first time I came to Canberra needing to wire copy overseas, in 1979, I was guided by a fellow New Zealander, the late Michael Foster, on how to do it. Late at night, one had to climb up a vertical ladder on one wall of the locked Parliament House, walk across a roof in complete darkness, then crawl through this window to gain access to a telegraph operator. It was the only way back then!
 Working conditions for political journalists are replicated above and below.
This Underwood four portable typewriter belonged to William Farmer Whyte (1877-1958), Bombala-born journalist and author, who joined the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery in Canberra in 1927. There, for the rest of his life, he conducted the Federal News Service, supplying political articles and his Canberra Times column ('Over the Speaker's Chair') to country newspapers throughout Australia. In 1937-39 he edited a monthly magazine, Australian National Review, about which he corresponded with Corona 3-user Miles Franklin. In 1952 Whyte edited the Australian Parliamentary Handbook and in 1955 published an extensive, though not definitive, biography of the prime minister whom he had known for much of his own career, Corona 3-wielding Billy Hughes. Farmer Whyte worked to within a few days of his death, just short of his 81st birthday.
 A radio network news room.
This Adler Contessa portable typewriter belonged to New Zealand-born Miringa Gay Davidson (1939-2004) of The Canberra Times, the first female chief political correspondent for a major newspaper in Australia and the first woman president of the Australian Commonwealth Parliamentary Press Gallery. The "blokey" culture of the Canberra Press Gallery never caused Gay Davidson to pause. Indeed, at one point, she sought and obtained permission to use a male toilet, near her office in the Press Gallery, because the nearest women’s toilet, at that stage, was “too far away”. She explained, as she pressed her case, that there would be “no embarrassment” as most of the men in there would be “facing the wall.”  She was a former daughter-in-law of Mount Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary.
This Remington Quiet-Riter portable typewriter belonged to Alan Douglas Joseph Reid (1914-1987), nicknamed 'The Red Fox', who worked in the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery from 1937 to 1985. He is noted for his role in the Australian Labor Party split of 1955 and his coinage of the term "36 faceless men" to describe the members of the Australian Labor Party's Federal Conference. Reid was born in Liverpool, England, and grew up in poverty. At the age of 11, his father, a New Zealand-born sea captain, had an accident that ended his career, and emigrated with Reid to Australia; they lived in the Sydney suburb of Paddington.
Reid retired due to illness in 1985 and died from lung and stomach cancer, related to his smoking habit, in 1987, at the age of 72.
Some of the portable typewriters donated to the Press Gallery exhibition by former political journalists. In this lot is a Waverley (Consul), a Silver-Seiko, Nakajima Tippa, Gabrieles and Contessas.
 Scott proudly proclaims where Australia's Prime Ministers once stood.
 Scott and Steve leave Old Parliament House, heading for the Aboriginal Embassy across the road.
As envisaged more than 100 years ago by Marion Mahony Griffin, the wife of Canberra designer, Chicago's Walter Burley Griffin, this is the present day view from the forecourt of the "new" Parliament House, looking down at the back of Old Parliament House and up Anzac Parade to the Australian War Memorial, at the foot of Mount Ainslie. Between Old Parliament House and Anzac Parade, out of sight here, is the man-made Lake Burley Griffin.

Steve types merrily away in front of the "new" Parliament House.
 Scott's Olympia portable typewriter sits waiting to be swung into action.